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U.S. Supreme Court Makes It Easier to Deport Green Card Holders for Old Criminal Convictions


In late April, The US Supreme Court ruled to uphold a lower court’s decision making a legal permanent resident ineligible to have his deportation canceled under a US law that allows legal permanent residents to do so if they have been living continuously in the US for at least seven years as long as they have not been convicted of certain serious felonies during that time. The decision was justified by the majority based on a change introduced by Congress in 1996 known as the “stop-time rule,” which disqualifies immigrants who commit certain crimes from having their deportation canceled by ‘stopping the clock’ on their continuous residency timeline.

The decision is extremely significant, as it could affect thousands of immigrants (or more) who have criminal convictions – even those with minor offenses – who are legally here in the US as green card holders. Specifically, the government has estimated that there are close to two million non-citizens that it considers to be deportable based on past criminal convictions.

The Case

In this case, the government argued that the stop-time rule was triggered because the defendant’s 1996 assault charge barred his admission into the country. However, as of 1996, the defendant had technically already been living in the US for too long to be considered deportable for that crime.

The conservative majority appears to have justified their decision by arguing that Congress intended to authorize the removal of non-citizens, including lawful permanent residents, who were convicted of committing certain serious crimes, without referring to any kind of timeline, even though that is not what the law actually indicates. In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the ruling antithetical to “common sense.” Even the immigration judge who initially heard the case indicated that she would have rather granted the defendant’s request to avoid deportation due to his rehabilitation and the fact that his four children were all US citizens. However, immigration authorities decided that his deportation could not be canceled because his charges triggered the stop-time rule mere months before he reached the seven-year milestone that the law requires.

If You Are an Immigrant Who Has Been Accused of a Crime, It Is Imperative That You Work with an Experienced Criminal Defense & Immigration Attorney

Decisions like these highlight just how contentious immigration legal issues have become at this time, especially when certain courts are becoming more and more political in their makeup and decisions. As a result, if you have been accused of a crime, it is imperative that you work closely with an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your record, especially if you are in the US on a green card, as the current administration is using any justification possible to deport non-U.S. citizens.

Contact North Carolina Immigration and Criminal Defense Lawyer Rashad Hauter for Assistance

North Carolina criminal lawyer Rashad Hauter has been practicing criminal and immigration law for years. As a former District Attorney and Prosecutor, as well as knowing firsthand what it is like to be an immigrant, he has a commitment to his clients like no other. Contact our office today for assistance to find out more about our services.



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